What we have acheived
The Moravian work at Spring Gardens was started by Samuel Isles on April 1, 1756. Armed with the enactment of Parliament which recognized the Moravian Church and encouraged support of its mission activity, Isles was granted the necessary permission by the governor and began work among the slaves on the estate in Gambles. Peter Brown joined him in 1769 and these men worked in the midst of intolerable conditions. By 1771, some 7,000 Christian slaves stood out as living witnesses to their work. By 1760, land had been purchased in St. John’s as a base for missionary operations which led to the establishment of congregations in all parts of the island.
The emancipation of the slaves in Antigua took place on August 1,1834. This served as a golden opportunity for the Moravians to expand their work. They launched a major work in education by establishing schools. These day schools were established in almost every community in which the Moravians had a mission work. Prior to emancipation, the Moravian missionaries trained slaves to teach their fellow slaves the rudiments of education, which included reading, writing and arithmetic. Whenever there was a need and wherever it was permitted, the Moravians provided monies for tuition. This practice enabled many of them to qualify as teachers.
The Spring Gardens Teachers Training College was founded in 1854 by Bishop George Wall Westerby. This boosted the work in education greatly. It provided the professional and academic training for teachers, a fact which raised the standard of education in all the schools. This college made a great contribution not only to the schools of Antigua but to most of the islands of the West Indies as well, as teachers came from the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean to be outfitted for their task. Bishop Westerby must be commended for improving life in the Antiguan society. He was also responsible for bringing pipe-borne water into the city of St. Johns. Today, outside the Ministry of Health Building at the bottom of High Street in St. John’s, stands a memorial to Bishop Westerby. This was erected by the public of Antigua in grateful remembrance of the bishop who laboured faithfully in the West Indies for nearly 50 years.
Moravian day-schools continued to play an important part in preparing Moravians and non-Moravians alike to assume responsible leadership in every aspect of our community today. The schools were run by the church and served as the tool of education for the nationals until these schools were formally turned over to the government in the 1950’s.
The Moravians are known for excellent hymn singing, choirs and musicians. Many Moravians have contributed this talent to both church and national life. Our history also includes the establishing of music schools which were used to teach the young. Congregational choirs remain an important medium used to enhance our worship experience.
Bishop George Wall Westerby’s efforts in bringing pipe borne water to St. John’s is a sterling reminder of our social responsibility. Mission work cannot be concerned with preaching the gospel only, for if they are hungry, cold or naked, their ability to hear and respond to the gospel will be lessened. Thus, in the aftermath of Hurricane Luis, our church felt it necessary to be a center for distributing relief supplies of food, clothing and building materials. We provided relief supplies to almost 500 persons. We continue with our social service as currently we have a Share a Meal program which provides a hot lunch every Tuesday to approximately (90) persons.